June 14, 2015

Jurassic World vs Jurassic Park – Fun With Ratings (And Some Advice)

I was looking at the dino-sized amount of money Jurassic World made this weekend, and came across this comparison on BoxOfficeMojo.

Ladies and gentlemen — the ‘Jurassic’ Rumble.

Apart from the money (and it’s always about the money, except when it isn’t, although even then the money matters because it’s called “show BUSINESS”, right?), I was intrigued by the ratings.

All four ‘Jurassic‘ films have been rated PG-13. I’ve only seen Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, so I’ll limit my comparison to those two. (It’s possible I saw The Lost World but I don’t remember. I am positive I never saw Jurassic Park III.)

Here is the MPAA Reason for giving Jurassic Park a PG-13 rating in 1993:

intense science fiction terror

And the MPAA Reason for giving ‘Jurassic World’ the same PG-13 rating 22 years later (yes, 1993 was 22 years ago. You can go weep if you like, we’ll wait):

intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.

(Note: these descriptions are via BoxOfficeMojo.com.)

I saw Jurassic Park recently (in anticipation of Jurassic World), and these two similar but different descriptions actually make sense to me. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies, but the phrase “intense science fiction terror” definitely applies to Jurassic Park in a way that it does not apply to Jurassic World. The 1993 Spielberg film features moments that are genuinely sweet and tender, like the one with the sick Triceratops:

Or my personal favorite, when they’re asleep in the tree and are awakened by a giant dinosaur.

Despite these scenes, there are others that are HOLYCRAPWHATWASTHAT?!? worthy, such as the severed arm.

By contrast, Jurassic World, although it is bigger in every way (bigger cast, more dinosaurs, BIGGER dinosaurs — that doesn’t really count as a spoiler, does it?) is not as scary, hence the removal of the word “terror”. “Intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril” is a pretty good description of the movie. Jurassic World is more violent than the 1993 film, and there are more scenes of people (and sometimes dinosaurs) in peril, in keeping with the overall theme of “more more more.” (Although the original Jurassic Park definitely had plenty of peril a bit of violence, just not as much as the latest movie.)

My point here is that when asking the age-old question, Can I let my kids see this movie?, it helps to read the descriptions. All PG-13 films are not the same. It is worth noting that reading the MPAA Reason in a newspaper can be almost impossible, especially if the description is more specific. What parents really should do is research the movie before taking their kids to see it. In some cases you may even want to check it out yourself first. (I’ve done this, especially when my kids were younger.)

So after all that, should you take your kids to see Jurassic World? As I always say, it’s like the old man said to the druggist – depends. Depends on your kid and their tolerance for scary movie scenes, especially startling ones. Jurassic World is obviously a smash-hit and you may find that your kids want to see it. My advice? Similar to what I would say if I found myself at a real-life Jurassic World theme park. Be careful. The best judge of what your kid can deal with is you, and of course the kid. Jurassic World is mostly fun; the biggest problem is it gets a little boring when there aren’t any dinosaurs doing stuff. It’s almost unfair to compare it to Jurassic Park, in no small part because ‘Park’ was directed by Steven Spielberg, one of the greatest directors ever. It also came out in 1993, when seeing dinosaurs on a big screen had more “wow-factor” than it does now. That said, ‘World’ could be better.

Back to whether or not you should take your kids. Of the two films, I personally think Jurassic Park is scarier than Jurassic World. (Remember — “terror”.) But that doesn’t mean Jurassic World doesn’t have the potential to scare the behoozles out of your kids. (I just made that word up because I didn’t want to use the word ‘bejeezus’.) So be a good parent — read reviews, think it over, and consider what your child’s reaction to other movies has been. If you decide it’s too scary for them, that’s OK. But also try asking them. You may be surprised by how savvy kids are about films these days.

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